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For many students, the correct placement of adverbs in English sentences can be a real headache. This pain is made worse when one considers the fact that there are different types of adverbs, and they can take up different positions in a sentence.
. First, we’ll look at adverbs of frequency. Some common examples are: sometimes, often, usually, never, always, occasionally…the list goes on and on! These adverbs normally go after the first auxiliary verb (if there is one in the sentence). For example
- He can always hit that note when he sings.
- She has never been to Moscow.
If there’s no auxiliary verb, the adverb of frequency goes between the subject and the verb (in other words, before the main verb):
- I never drink brandy.
- They always want to take the scenic route.
However, discussing adverbs of frequency only scratches the surface. In general, adverbs precede the words they modify. This takes us to the next type of adverb we’ll look at- adverbs of manner.
. Adverbs of manner indicate how something is done. They follow the object, and if there’s no object, they come after the main verb. Consider the following examples:
- They play their instruments well. (after the object)
- He ate quickly. (after the main verb)
We need to be careful when there’s more than one verb in the sentence. Just think: which action do I want to modify (or describe)? If you place the adverb before the verb, it only modifies that action. For example:
- He awkwardly offered to pay for the damage. (the way he offered was awkward)
If you place the adverb after a clause, it describes/modifies the whole action described in the clause. For example:
- e offered to pay for the damage awkwardly. (he’ll pay in an awkward way)
. Besides adverbs of frequency and manner, there are also adverbs of time of place to consider. Adverbs of time are normally placed at the end of the sentence, and adverbs of place are placed after the object or the main verb (which happens to normally be at the end of the sentence as well).
- I’m going to see her next week. (time)
- I’m going to see her here. (place)
One useful tip to remember is that placing an adverb of time at the end of the sentence emphasizes the time itself. If you don’t want to emphasize this, you can put the adverb at the beginning of the sentence. For example:
- I’ll do my homework tomorrow. (emphasizes the fact that you’ll do it TOMORROW)
- Tomorrow I’ll do my homework. (emphasizes the action of doing the homework)
May this guide you in your quest to master the art of using adverbs!
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